Why Activism is Important for Lyme Disease

lyme disease activist

We all hear about activists and the great causes and things they do, but why is this actually important to our society.

Activism. 

ac·tiv·ism

ˈaktəˌvizəm/

noun

  1. the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change.

     

For many, the words "activism", or "activist" conjure up memories of the 1960's, with peace marches, love-ins, and racial equality at the forefront of most protests. As many know, however, we have a much richer history than the activism of the 1960's. Our country and many areas throughout the world were built on the results of activism. The selfless acts of protest, picketing, and standing up for each other, have always been the way to get things done, despite the injury, loss of life, or jail time one might face.

In recent history, we were faced with a health crisis, that for many years was ignored. The virus was AIDS. People who contracted this virus were dying, and there seemed to be no research, treatment, or even an acknowledgement of this virus, except to blame it on drug use, and sexual orientation. AIDS was only medically recognized in 1981, and from that point forward, it took many years of protests, and loss of life, to convince the government, to make AIDS research a priority. Aids research continues to this day, with an annual budget, at $34 Billion dollars. In the US.  (https://www.kff.org/global-health-policy/fact-sheet/u-s-federal-funding-for-hivaids-trends-over-time/) and even talk of a possible cure on the horizon because of the hard work of activists.

Activism, and it's call to unite people for a cause, is ongoing. Most recently, there has been an increased effort to educate, and increase awareness of another disease that, although acknowledged, in it's acute form, is still ignored, or denied, in it's chronic form, and this ignorance has resulted in the long term suffering, and deaths of many men, woman and children. This disease is Lyme Disease.

Lyme Disease is not new. When it was first seen in the population of Old Lyme, Connecticut, in the mid 1970's, it was diagnosed as "Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis". In 1981, Willy Bergdorfer, an American scientist, discovered that a bacterium called a spirochete, carried by ticks, was causing Lyme Disease. The medical community honored Dr. Burgdorfer’s discovery in 1982, by naming the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi.

Since it's discovery, Lyme Disease has grown to be one of the most common vector borne diseases in the US, and is now, seemingly running rampant throughout the world. With 300,000 new cases a year, in the US alone, Lyme Disease is sadly lacking in recognition, research, and treatment options for those affected. To top it all off, it is costing approximately $1.3 billion to treat each year. (According to Johns Hopkins)

Although contracting Lyme Disease is not likely to result in immediate death, it freqeuently leads to debilitation and deterioration of general health. It is likely to stay with you, even after conventional treatment, and is then not acknowledged by western medicine. 

Death, especially from suicide, is not uncommon among those suffering due to lack of resources for recovery.

This is why activism is so important. When the medical profession,  government, and insurance companies, seek to sweep a problem under the rug, and brush off the severity of an illness, we must stand up, and make our voices heard. As with any injustice, we must band together, educate the public, and spread awareness far and wide. It is only through our efforts that change will come, and funds will be allocated toward research. We need treatments that work, and hopefully, one day a cure.

We need you. We need you to speak up.

We need each and every person to help us stand up and make a difference for those suffering.